Summer Strength and Conditioning
Growing up, summer meant only a few things: training at a gym called Fitness Factory and training at my high school gym. I was working to regain the strength and size I lost during my spring sport season. It meant catching up on a sleep debt. It meant eating everything. Being a jersey boy it meant going down the shore, hitting up seaside heights, Belmar, Point Pleasant, thunderstorms and lightning bugs. And of course, the not so exciting finding a job, which actually always wound up being fun.
Today, my summer looks very different. Instead of focusing on my training, it is transferred to my athletes. I give everything I have to taking the athletes that walk into the doors at 1RM Performance to a whole new level. Last summer there were several athletes who completely changed who they are as athletes and brought their abilities to a completely new level, through just training. It was insane! I’m talking over 200lb increases on the squat, 10+ inches in the vert, -.8 seconds in 40s. It was nuts!!! Achieving this isn’t as easy as simply getting an athlete under the bar and having them squat. It is an ongoing process that never turns off.
Summer begins with a reconnecting hug, and a look to see if an athlete is ready to do some serious work. There is nervousness in the air when an athlete is back for the summer. They know that things are never exactly the same. Things are constantly evolving within the walls of the gym. You grow, or you die. Athletes come back expecting new tricks and new training ideas, and I always deliver. From there it’s on.
Day 1. Assessment
Athletes are back under the bar squatting and a couple quick tests to not only see where they are strength and power wise, but to see where they are movement, loading, and stability wise. You would be surprised with how a squat pattern can change and mobility can be lost through a year of training at college. It’s nearly impossible for a strength coach to constantly cue his athletes when he has 50 plus athletes at a time.
Day 2. Re-Education
Reteach the squat, bench, etc. If it takes more then words, we move to DNS and other mobility drills that become the warm up to correct the movement issues that have creeped back in. This period of time is short lived. I find that if an athlete has previously had a great squat pattern, it’s not too difficult to pull it back out. It just requires a little extra work for the athlete and myself, a little DNS, and cuing on my end. During this week or so period, athletes tend to hit higher maxes and already see improvements by just cleaner mechanics and improved neural coordination.
Day 5ish. Volume, Hypertrophy, and building a base.
Here we start cranking, and building an athlete’s anaerobic base and build their work capacity. This stage is key in order to allow us to train at higher intensities a few weeks down the road. Strength really climbs during this phase, because honestly, kids are coming back detrained. It’s common for athletes to improve their lifts by a hundred pounds or so within this time.
3 weeks later…Triphasic
This is really where the magic happens. If you aren’t familiar with Triphasic training, it’s one of the most advanced programming you could use with your athletes. It was created by the top mind in the programming world Cal Dietz. The man is brilliant, and has created a program that is unmatched. Triphasic training is not for everyone. It takes balls and patience as a strength coach. It requires a certain level of focus from an athlete, and some special tools in the gym.
Triphasic training involves three weeks of eccentric work, three weeks of isometric work, and three weeks of concentric work. This summer, we will be playing with supra-maximal weeks, which Cal considers advanced methods, involving weights above your 1RM. After spending three days with Cal Dietz in Winnipeg last April, I played around with this on a few athletes last summer, and the results came fast!
Following 80% 1RM concentric work, we back the numbers down to 30-40% of the max and work Velocity based training using the Gymaware. For those of you that don’t know, Velocity based training is sick. The work you complete throughout a given day is based on the velocities you create at your pelvis or on the bar. We work until there is a certain % drop in velocity, or until movement qualities just go to crap. The drop in velocity we look for is dependent on the amount of stress I’m trying to accrue for that day in the athlete, based on their next event or next training day. It produces results fast, and maintains quality of training. QUALITY IS KING.
The in-betweens of training
Along the training program there is open dialogue on how an athlete is feeling, and constant reassessing of movement. No this doesn’t mean the DNS/FMS assessment every two weeks, it means keeping a watchful eye on how athletes are moving. If something is off on a given day, we back it down, correct the faulty movement pattern, and hop back into training. This is all done on the same day and takes a total of 7 minutes. I believe it is my watchful eye, and ability to pick up on poor/changes in movement patterns that keeps athletes training hard, really hard, and healthy throughout a summer of work.
End of the summer
This is the worst. This means things slow down a bit. Some athletes that I’ve just spent the whole summer with head back to college. It’s awesome to know that we just changed their life and brought them to a whole new level, but sad, because as we all know, “There is always more”. We take our pictures, send them off with words to keep them motivated, videos to correct and movement issues that might pop up, and memories that will keep us waiting for winter break and the next summer!