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The Strength Report: Developing the Explosive Athlete - Auburn's Off Season Tra

by: Kevin Yoxall
Strength & Conditioning Coach, Auburn University
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Conditioning should be at the forefront of a football strength and conditioning program. This does not diminish the importance of the weight room but there always needs to be a certain level of fitness for each player. You can't overemphasize the importance of conditioning, especially in this day and age. No matter how great the player is in the weight room, if he can't run, he can't play. This not only applies to straight-ahead running but the ability to move athletically, to change direction and to react to movement.

Many college players are still in some sort of developmental stage with regards to strength and conditioning for football. Our thought process is to keep the training and lifting program basic and simple. We usually have in the area of 115 athletes on the football team and they all have had different levels of weight training by the time they arrive on campus. Some multi-sport athletes in high school have gone from sport to sport without any real weight training while athletes that have primarily played football are more experienced not only in the weight room, but in conditioning as well. That, coupled with the NCAA limitations placed on the number of hours regulated for workouts, makes every hour important with the players. I try to be very practical in the weight room. While there is some out of the box thinking in maximizing weight programs, you have to be careful in large group settings. We want to make sure the athlete is doing the specific lift or pull correctly and that we adhere to the basic movements.

It is also important to lift during the season. At Auburn one of our two days of lifting for travel squad players is Sunday. Considering that it is the day after a game, this is a relatively more intense lower body workout day. It consists of an Olympic movement such as the Power Cleaner Hang Clean, a squat movement, either Front / Back Squats or Step-ups, Bench or Incline Press, 2-3 lower back / glute and hamstring movements and abdominal training. Sunday is a low volume / medium intensity day for both the lower and upper body. The focus for Sunday is strength maintenance and recovery. A static stretch is done post workout on Sunday.

Tuesday is the other day for lifting during the season for travel players after the regularly scheduled practice. The Tuesday schedule also emphasizes lower-body work at a lower intensity / volume than on Sunday and a higher intensity / volume on the upper body than on Sunday.

The focus for travel players on Tuesday is lower body strength maintenance and recovery and upper body, including the core, strength gains. On Tuesday an extensive warm-up / stretch is performed before the workout and a static stretch is done post workout.

During the off-season there is only a five to six week window before the start of spring practice. For us, this is usually from mid January until mid-to-late February. During that period of time basic conditioning is emphasized with linear running in the form of full gassers, half gassers, 110, 80 and 60 yard sprints. Basic agility drills and primarily programmable cone and bag drills are started at this point also. By doing this we begin to build our conditioning base. The goal is to build a solid football conditioning, power and strength base leading into spring practices. This will also serve us after spring practice to begin another cycle of conditioning training. This begins at the end of spring practice in late March and continues through the spring semester.

As Auburnís Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Kevin Yoxall supervises all of Auburnís strength and conditioning programs for menís and womenís athletics. Yoxall began his coaching career at TCU (1987-92) where he served as a graduate assistant, assistant and the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach starting in 1989. He was Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for football at Minnesota from 1992-1995. From 1995-98 he was UCLAís Head Strength and Conditioning Coach. Yoxall joined the Auburn staff in January 1999.


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