A MODEL PROGRAM FOR OFF-SEASON TRAINING
EXERCISE SELECTION The legs, hips, and torso are the major muscle groups involved in athletics. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends 65% of all training time involve the muscles from the top of the chest to the knees. Exercises that strengthen these areas are called “core exercises.” The remaining 35% of training time should be concentrated on the neck, arms, lower legs, and shoulders. Exercises that strengthen these areas are called “supplemental exercises.” Emphasis should be placed on each major muscle group to ensure balanced muscle development. Strength training programs should exercise large muscle groups first 5 and smaller muscle groups last. A recommended training sequence is: hips and buttocks, upper legs (quadriceps and hamstrings), lower legs (calves and dorsiflexors), upper torso (chest, back, and shoulders), arms (biceps, triceps, and forearms), abdominals, and the lower back. The abdominals and lower back muscles are important stabilizers and should always be exercised at the end of a workout. For a balanced workout that builds functional strength perform multi-joint exercises first and single-joint exercises last.
EXERCISE FREQUENCY A regular training schedule is necessary for sustained strength improvement. If core exercises and supplemental exercises are performed on the same day, three nonconsecutive workouts per week produce the best results. If core exercises and supplemental exercises are performed on different days, a split routine should be used. A split routine would include doing chest, leg and stomach exercises on Monday and Thursday and doing hip, back, shoulder, and arm exercises on Tuesday and Friday. Adequate rest is essential to strength development. Muscles do not get stronger during a workout, they get stronger during the recovery from a workout. 48 to 72 hours of rest should be allowed between strength training workouts for a particular body area to allow the muscle tissue to rebuild.
EXERCISE SPEED All strength training exercises should be performed in a slow, controlled manner to increase muscle force production and decrease potential for injury. Lifting the resistance should take approximately 2 seconds, while lowering should take approximately 4 seconds. There should be a momentary pause in the fully contracted and fully extended positions. This causes not only an excellent strength stimulus in the target muscle group, but also an excellent stretch in the opposing group. Slow, controlled strength training will greatly reduce the risk of injury and produce excellent results.
EXERCISE INTENSITY & DURATION There are multiple theories regarding the intensity of strength training programs. Some theories involve multiple sets of varying repetitions and some theories involve single sets of multiple repetitions. All theories are based on The Principle of Progressive Resistance and will produce significant strength gains when applied on a regular basis over time. Research indicates different muscles should be exercised for different amounts of time to increase muscle size and strength. Optimal training times are 90-120 seconds for the buttocks, 60-90 seconds for the rest of the lower body, and 40-70 seconds for the upper torso. In practical terms, the buttocks should be exercised for 15-20 repetitions, the lower body for 10-15 repetitions, and the upper body for 6-12 repetitions. This does not mean multiple sets cannot be used, but for optimal strength gains each set should last the recommended time. Scientific research indicates the optimal length of a strength training session should be no more one hour. Your body has enough energy stored to work at a high level of intensity for about one hour. Workouts lasting longer than one hour will be performed at a lower level 6 of intensity due to low energy levels.
EXERCISE CONTINUITY The amount of rest between successive exercises depends greatly on the type of activity being trained for. Remember the SAID principle, which states that one should train the way they will play the game. In football, where longer rest periods are permitted between plays, longer rest periods can be permitted between successive exercises. In sports which require more cardiovascular endurance without frequent rests one should train allowing little rest between sets. As the competitive season draws closer, it is a good idea to reduce the rest period between sets to increase cardiovascular endurance. This certainly does not take the place of cardiovascular fitness training, but it is an important adjunct to it.
EXERCISE RANGE For best results, each repetition should go through the full range of joint movement. Moving a joint through a full range of motion means moving it from a completely extended position to a completely flexed position. Moving the joint through a full range of motion not only produces strength throughout the entire range of motion, but also helps to enhance flexibility.
EXERCISE PROGRESSION Gradual increases in resistance are essential for developing strength. A program with emphasis on progressing slowly will result in greater muscle and tendon strength gains and less muscle soreness. When increasing the weight being lifted, it is best to increase in approximately 5% increments.