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10 Tips for Strength and Conditioning for Athletes

10 Tips for Strength and Conditioning for Athletes

Here are my top ten tips to ensure athletic success.

1. Bodyweight before external resistance

I’m still surprised at the eagerness of most coaches to get their athletes under the bar. Many coaches and athletes make the mistake of beginning a strength routine and going straight for the heavyweights. This usually ends up causing an injury. An athlete has no business using load if he/she cannot stabilize, control and move efficiently with only their body weight. If you can’t stabilize your shoulder girdle and core doing push-ups then there is no way I’m going to put you under a bench press bar.

So your strength program in the beginning stages may include no weights whatsoever. It will work better and faster than a typical program m that relies primarily on weights and machines in the beginning stages. 

2.  Train in a standing position - with free weights

Isolated muscle group training, outside of rehabilitation has no place in athletic training. An athlete should focus on strengthening specific movements. True muscle isolation is impossible anyway, so let’s focus on using that body to work in an integrated fashion.

3. Train unilaterally and multi-planar

The majority of strength training programs take place in the sagittal plane with bilateral movements. However, the majority of sport takes place in all 3 planes simultaneously with primarily unilateral movements. EVERY single sports conditioning program should include split squats, step-ups and lunge variations. 

4. Use all primary methods to develop strength

Traditional strength training programs have focused overwhelmingly on maximum strength or force development. More important for the competitive athlete is a focus on the rate of force development. In the world of sport speed is still the king.

5. Variation

Even the most perfectly balanced program has to have one exercise performed first and another performed last. Not being aware of the potential negatives of this (i.e. one exercise is never trained when you are fresh) can create an injury situation.

6. Avoid mimicking skills

Throwing weighted balls etc will do little to improve your strength and a lot to screw up your technique. Make sure the roles of strength and conditioning and skill training are separate. The role of conditioning training is NOT skill training. Loading a technique tends to affect the mechanics of the technique negatively.

7. Train with Balance

Make sure you address pushing and pulling on both horizontal and vertical planes and attempt to balance the loading. If you are bench pressing 400lbs but can only do a chest-supported row with 50lbs your shoulder girdle is going to suffer.

8. Get out of the Weight Room

Try some strongman training: sled dragging, uphill sprints, and stadium stairs.

9. Train the antagonists

If you are not training the antagonists eccentrically - you are not training deceleration. And if you are not training deceleration you cannot be training acceleration.

10. Full Front Squats

This exercise may be the single most athletic exercise. You’ll get core strength, and wrist, knee, hip, shoulder and ankle flexibility in a single exercise.

Helpful course to enroll in - Calisthenic Training Specialist

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