One of the most important aspects of an athlete’s regimen is their strength training protocol. There are a variety of ways to determine what is the best, however here are some guidelines to follow when putting together a successful program. The first step is to fill out a medical history form to determine if there are certain injuries past or present that you may have to navigate around during a workout. The athlete should be cleared by a medical professional before starting any type of physical activity. Upon completion of both tasks, then the process of designing a program or hiring a Certified Professional to put together a regimen.
TIPS FOR DESIGNING A STRENGTH TRAINING PROGRAM
- The program should look at what sport the athlete is playing and where in the development stage of childhood are they. If an athlete is younger and has not fully developed their growth plates this should be accounted for. That means that children under the age of 14 have to be careful with the amount of workload they use as well as making sure the exercises are mechanically sound. This is not to say there are not some exceptions to the rule, each child develops at a different pace, but this is a good rule of thumb. The program should focus on higher repetitions and lower weights.
- The sport that the athlete plays comes into play when putting a program together. Athletes who play unilateral sports such as tennis, baseball, field hockey, golf, etc. should not just be performing compound movements. The problem is that compound movements can throw off any imbalances the athlete has from their sport thus creating potential for injuries. This is not to say they cannot do compound movements, you just have to be selective and vary the exercises to account for imbalances.
- Ballistic sports consist of running short distances and then shutting down and restarting again. If your athlete falls into this category: football, soccer, basketball, baseball, field hockey, and lacrosse, then DO NOT RUN LONG DISTANCES. It is a scientific fact that running long consistent distances at a steady pace will slow down your athlete. If you want to run a mile or more than run at an interval pace 30 second sprint followed by 30 second jog. You can vary the time and recovery according to the athlete’s condition and needs.
- Strength training requires a WARM-UP. You cannot just go to the gym and start lifting weights without potential injury risk. The warm-up should be ballistic in nature and activate the entire body for exercise. At the end of your strength training workout you MUST STRETCH and FOAM ROLL. An athlete that has poor flexibility has a much higher risk of injury. These are not optional and must be done EVERY WORKOUT.
- When designing the program, you have to calculate in if it’s an In-season or Off-season program. In-season strength training is more maintenance and not as taxing on the body because the athlete is already practicing daily and has games. Off-season should be more aggressive and try to improve upon areas that may be lacking.
- The last tip is to make sure you have a balanced program. This means incorporating rest days and making sure you are not over-developing certain muscle groups. If you do one exercise for your quads than make sure you also do one for your hamstrings. You can focus on areas that need improvement but be cautious not cause major imbalances in the body’s mechanics.
There are a lot of areas to consider when putting together an effective training protocol. The tips above are a good start to designing a well thought out plan. If this all seems overwhelming, than hire a professional to handle this area. Make sure the person has experience, knowledge, certification, and passion for helping you. At the end of the day, you want someone who cares about your success and gives you 110%.