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The Speed Report: Maximizing Football Speed and Movement with A Weight Room Prog

by: Dale Baskett
Football Speed Specialist
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Maximizing football speed development is a year round process. This is the case at the collegiate and professional level. The high school level is not as consistent with the application towards speed development as the upper levels of football. Most high schools cannot employ full-time strength and conditioning coaches. College and pro strength coaches utilize many essentials that cover strength and speed development aspects on a year-round time table. Many high schools across our nation are trying to follow the procedural structure of this thinking. I would like to bring to light the most important aspect of speed training for football at all levels: coordinating the lifting cycle with speed and movement. Improper coordination of both training cycles can be a physiological train wreck for speed production.

I would like to introduce my long time colleague in the strength and conditioning world, Nick Kyros. Nickís background is extensive: 35 years in the profession, 18 years at the collegiate level, 15 at the Division-I level. He is also a certified Olympic lifting coach with the USA Weightlifting Federation in Colorado Springs. Lifting at the masters level, he has a host of world and national records. He was a national champion in 1992, Ď95 and Ď98. Coach Kyros knows his business not only as an exceptional strength coach but heís lived the experience successfully. Nick will share with us the most effective methods for speed and weight room training that will maximize speed and movement.

Do it Right: Speed and Weights

Football is a running game not a lifting competition. Never sacrifice what you are doing on the field with weight room workouts. Lifting workouts should have exact goals. They are designed to continue the progress of the player overall. The order of importance should always be speed and movement, first and foremost. The lifting workouts are designed to augment the on-the-field training and never vice-versa. Within the calendar year you must establish five or six lifting cycles. The longest is the in-season cycle which is 12 weeks. The shortest is the camp cycle, two weeks long (two-a-days). The sixth cycle is the playoff cycle which comes into play for teams that qualify. All programs will experience the five cycles: Base, Strength, Speed and Power, Camp and In-season.

Base Cycle: The basic program includes all major lifts with the exception of the Olympic lifts that are done by sets of eight. The player does a warm-up set, an intermediate set and three sets of eight at 80%. When the player can handle the second set of eight at 80% without any help he goes up five pounds the next time we do that lift. Early in the cycle a five pound increase is easy. The player could increase ten or even 20 pounds. However, by only increasing five pounds we avoid joint soreness or stiffness. This allows for a fresh body on the field for the running program. In the second four weeks of the base eights, five pound jumps become more demanding. The first four weeks prepare the player for the second four weeks. Because the initial five pound jump allowed for a gradual improvement, the player is much less apt to be torn down to the point where it will have a negative effect on the running program.

Isolation work is emphasized in this cycle. During this eight week period the power line (hamstrings, glutes and lower back) are worked independently of lower body. This is the only time of the entire training year that this is done. It is important that we do not do any flat speed work in the running session that immediately follows. All lower body workouts are placed in the week where the greatest time for recovery is allowed. If on-the-field workouts are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, replace the lower body workout on Wednesday with the Thursday running workouts being a movement development session. The week breakdown includes Monday (upper body), Wednesday (lower body) and Friday (back). The flat speed sessions are Tuesdays and Saturdays. This assures fresh legs on high turnover running days.

Strength Cycle: The second eight weeks are the strength cycle. This is broken down into two four week sessions. The first four weeks consist of middle intensity. The second four weeks consist of heavy intensity. In the strength cycle we use what is termed K-values which allow the player to have a continuous percentage progression of intensity. In the middle intensity the reps are as follows: 5-45%, 3-75%, 3-85%, 2-87%, 2-90%, 1-94%. In heavy intensity the reps are 5-45%, 3-75%, 3-87%, 2-90%, 2-93%, 1-97%. Percentage tables are set up so the players can look at their goal in a lift and see the reps. And, also, the weight needed to reach that goal. Just as in the base cycle the first four weeks prepares the players for the second four weeks. The second four weeks (heavy intensity) are very demanding.

However, because we have gone through the four weeks of middle intensity the players are prepared to handle it. Because of the training year beginning in January, spring ball and the strength cycle are going to intersect. When this happens we must change the order of the lifting days. Monday becomes back day, Wednesday is for upper body and Friday is lower body. During spring ball the only speed work we are doing is a quick series of high contractional intensity. Spring ball in itself is a mini-speed cycle. It is important you monitor the players to be sure they are using what they have been taught in the speed and movement program. This is the payoff for everything we have done to this point. Great running mechanics must be reflected on the field and in a game situation. Spring ball comes at a very good time to make assessments on the progress of the team in relation to the speed and movement program.

Speed and Power Development: After evaluating the teamís progress we can set up the third cycle (speed and power). This is the summer program: part of June, July and part of August. During this cycle we go back to the regular order on lifting days. Monday is for upper body, Wednesday is for lower body and Friday for the back. The emphasis in the weight room is on speed and power. All lifting is in the 75-80% range. Bar speed is emphasized in everything we do. Very little isolation work is done with the exception of neck work and calf-raises on squat days. This is done to ensure the players are fresh for the speed and movement workouts on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Two Week Camp Begins: The fourth cycle is camp. This occurs some time in August. This is two weeks in which we change things up completely. The players break up into groups by position. Group 1 is offensive and defensive linemen. Group 2 is tight ends, fullbacks and linebackers. Group 3 is running backs and defensive backs. Group 4 is quarterbacks and receivers. On a typical day we would have Group 1 doing bench and incline with 5x5-85% for the last set. Group 2 is doing clean and jerks at 5x3 at 75-80%. Group 3 is doing dumbbell clean and jerks in a progression of sets of five reps. Each set is going up ten pound increments for linemen and tight ends, fullbacks and linebackers with five pound increments for everyone else. At the completion of the series each player has two minutes of recovery and he starts the series over again. He will repeat it three times. Group 4 does a dynamic strength circuit consisting of speed rope, hand clap push-ups, six double leg jumps, dips, chin-ups and squat thrusts. Each day at the end of camp the groups rotate to the next station. For example, Group 1 would go from bench and incline to dumbbell clean jerks. The groups will rotate through the duration of camp.

In-Season Cycle: The fifth cycle is the season itself. In-season, the speed work done is a short series, two-three days per week to sharpen mechanics and enhance the nervous system. Football is not kind to speed skills. Reinforcement counters this problem and allows for positive growth instead of degradation of movement qualities. Players can actually get faster from the beginning of the season to the end. This is acknowledging the dings, bumps and bruises all players must endure during the season. In the weight room we cut back to two lifting sessions per week. The workouts are 45 minutes in duration. The lifting is designed to assist the player with recovery. The weight is kept in the 75-80% range with the reps and sets at three-five. Emphasis is on bar speed and good technique. Our goal is to have the players feeling better leaving the weight room than when they came in. During this time you should be monitoring the players in relation to their work to recovery ratio. This is to ensure that the team is coming into the game with fresh legs ready to play four quarters of football. If necessary, adjust weight room workouts to ensure adequate recovery. Developing your players with a great speed and movement program is the difference maker. All training should be geared toward that end. FOOTBALL IS A RUNNING GAME!


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