SPORTS PERFORMANCE

Train Like the Pros

While I'm not the oldest, nor the most experienced coach in the industry, I certainly have been around long enough to have seen and experienced quite a few training "trends" over the last twenty years. Read More

Big jobs afford you a budget and the "machine that goes bing".

The trick is you've got to be good enough in the first place to get the big jobs...and that means developing the skills necessary to do the job in any circumstances.

Read More

A long time ago and for no specific reason other than a father wanting his son to be able to look out for himself, my Dad taught me to throw a punch.  

The significance of learning to punch properly taught me something about human movement that I don’t believe my dear old Dad ever intended.  

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A few weeks ago I posted a blog entitled “Technology Accelerator”. The main thrust of the article was that in my opinion (and I am just one guy), that there is a trend among young coaches to “lean” on technology too much, to use it as a starting point rather than a component that can take your program higher. Read More

Overview of a Mentorship session from July 2014

Topics discussed;

Neural Jump Testing Performance v Monitoring

Logistical issues with Jump Testing

Density Loading Outlines

Read More
In recent years technology and S&C coaching have grown so closely interwoven that at times it seems we can't move without a mandatory "setup" period in which the minions wheel out the plethora of devices required to quantify what is happening before our eyes.  Is this a good thing? Read More

Part II of Angus Teece's Interview of Jason Weber

Audio Interview Content;

Athlete Empathy

Coaching Focus

Transference of Strength

Integration of Training

Day in the Life of a Professional S&C coach Read More

January of any year… the silly season has passed, summer is on the run and the winter sporting season is rapidly approaching. The time has come for all Australian football code amateur athletes to make the decision whether to sit in third grade for the colder months or make a play for a spot higher up the “food chain”.

Whether it’s Rugby Union, Rugby League, Soccer or A.F.L. physical performance i.e. speed, strength & endurance, plays a significant role in determining individual and team success. Obviously there are substantial differences between the codes; however each has the common bond of requiring the ability to couple repeated explosive speed efforts with periods of sub-maximal “stride-out” pace transition running and combative strength engagements.  Check out my Blog on Weekend Warriors for more detail.

The ability to combine performance parameters of such varied means is a challenging task. Without question it is a task much more easily attempted with an organized plan. Heading out to the gym or park to train, deciding on your session content after arrival at the venue is a sure-fire way to achieve mediocrity in your physical performance. The guy who does tread this path generally does two things:

  1. Trains only things they are good at and
  2. Repeats the same session “ad infinitum”.

BOTH HABITS LEAD NOWHERE!

The keys to optimizing physical performance are:

  • Intensity: Training at too low an intensity will not stimulate the body to make the adaptations that will produce superior performance. Care must be taken not to go overboard in this department as this can lead to injury and staleness. Ensure regular unloading phases are taken.
  • Specificity: Train fast…be fast.
  • Variety: Varying training volume, intensity and exercise types on a regular basis provides the body continued stimulus to adapt.
  • Consistency: Training consistency reduces to peaks and troughs of performance that occur when people fluctuate between periods of training.

While Martin Luther King preached, “all men are created equal” – the reality of sport is that this is not the case. Some individuals appear to do two fifths of nothing and still blitz the field while other guys “plug” away relentlessly and seem to achieve little over a long period of time.

This article is for the guy who “plugs” away (mainly because the other type of bloke won’t bother reading a fitness article...that said it will work well for him too!). The program detailed below is designed for the guy that has be doing some base fitness work over the summer and is ready to start some more intense work.

Don’t attempt this program if you are walking straight off the “silly season” with no work under your belt.

 

GENERAL TRAINING NOTES:

  • An appropriate Warm Up must precede each session.
    • 10-15min light activity and dynamic mobility.
  • An appropriate Cool Down must follow each session.
    • 10min easy jog + 10min static stretches (hold for 30-45sec).
  • Coaching must be sought for those exercises you are unfamiliar with!
  • The program in organized into two CYCLES (Week 1-3 & Week 4-6)
  • Week 1-3 is aimed at allowing your body to become accustomed to higher volumes of work.
  • Week 4-6 is aimed at applying greater intensity to your body in order to produce more advanced performance.
  • The program is based around completing three days training per week of 1-hour maximum following the format noted below;
  • Monday – Speed
  • Wednesday – Strength
  • Friday – Endurance
  • While this program contains elements of programs used at the highest level, the design is aimed specifically at achieving as much as possible within a limited time frame (3 x 1hr per week). 

MONDAY – Speed

 

 

WORK

INTENSITY

RECOVERY

WEEK 1

Set 1

3 x (10 x 100m on 60sec)

Finish in 14-18sec

3min

 

 

 

 

Between sets

WEEK 2

Set 1

5 x 200m on 2min

Finish in 35-40sec

3min

 

Set 2

2 x (10 x 100m on 60sec)

Finish in 14-18sec

Between sets

WEEK 3

Set 1

10 x 200m on 2min

Finish in 35-40sec

3min

 

Set 2

10 x 100m on 60sec

Finish in 14-18sec

Between sets

WEEK 4

Set 1

6 x 60m – Tempo Runs

80% effort – focus on rhythm!

Walk back between each rep. 3min rest before Set 2

 

Set 2

2 x (6 x 20m) – Speed

90-100%

2min between each rep

WEEK 5

Set 1

6 x 60m – Tempo Runs

80% effort – focus on rhythm!

Walk back between each rep. 3min rest before Set 2

 

Set 2

2 x (3 x 20m) – Speed

90-100%

2min between each rep

 

Set 3

2 x (4 x 10m) - Speed

90-100%

2min between each rep

WEEK 6

Set 1

6 x 50m – Tempo Runs

80% effort – focus on rhythm!

Walk back between each rep. 3min rest before Set 2

 

Set 2

2 x (3 x 20m) – Speed

90-100%

2min between each rep

 

Set 3

2 x (2 x 10m) - Speed

90-100%

2min between each rep

 

SPECIFIC TRAINING NOTES:

  • "on 60sec" means you start a new rep every 60 sec.  The time remaining between completing the rep and the start of the next 60sec period is your recovery.
  • With Tempo and Speed efforts always start out a little bit "under" in your intensity and build as you feel comfortable.
  • See TRAIN TOUGH® for more detailed information

 

WEDNESDAY – Strength

ORDER

EXERCISE

WEEK 1

WEEK 2

WEEK 3

TEMPO

REC

A.

 

Deadlift

6 x 4

5 x 5

4 x 6

2/-/Drop

90sec

B.

Back Extension (BW Only)

3 x 10

3 x 12

3 x 14

2/2/2

90sec

C.

Split Squat or Bulgarian Squat

6 x 4

5 x 5

4 x 6

2/1/2

90sec

D.

Single Leg Calf Raise

2 x 12

2 x 14

2 x 16

2/2/2

90sec

E.

DB Shoulder Press

6 x 4

5 x 5

4 x 6

3/1/1

90sec

F.

UG Chin Up (add wt. as req)

6 x 4

5 x 5

4 x 6

3/1/1

90sec

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPECIFIC TRAINING NOTES:

  • IN WEEK 1 select a weight that allows you to complete the prescribed reps but is quite challenging (i.e.; you should just complete each set).
  • For WEEK 2 & 3 complete each set at the same weight as Week 1, completing the higher number of reps as per the program.
  • See TRAIN TOUGH® for more detailed information

 

ORDER

EXERCISE

WEEK 4

WEEK 5

WEEK 6

TEMPO

REC

A1.

Jumps for Distance

Walk back and reset each one

4 x 4

4 x 4

3 x 4

Explosive

N/A

A2.

Deadlift

5 x 3

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

4 x 3

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

3 x 3

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

2/-/Drop

2-3min

B1.

Eccentric Glute-Ham Raise or Nordic Lower

2 x 3

2 x 4

2 x 5

4sec lower

N/A

B2.

Single Leg Calf Hops

2 x 20

2 x 20

2 x 20

Explosive

90sec

C1.

Drop Push Up

4 x 4

4 x 4

3 x 4

Explosive

N/A

C2.

Bench Press

5 x 5

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

4 x 3

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

4 x 2

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

2/1/X

N/A

C3.

Bench Pull

5 x 5

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

4 x 3

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

4 x 2

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

2/1/1

2min

 

SPECIFIC TRAINING NOTES:

  • Select a weight that allows you to complete the prescribed reps but is quite challenging.  Ideally, start out conservatively and build across the set as indicated.
  • Technique must be maintained at all times.
  • Exercises grouped under the same letter are completed as a complex (i.e. together) and recovery is taken after the pair of exercises is complete.
  • Professional coaching should be sort for specialist instruction.
  • See TRAIN TOUGH® for more detailed information

 

FRIDAY - Endurance

 

 

WORK

INTENSITY

RECOVERY

WEEK 1

SET 1

6 x 4min efforts

85-90% MHR

1min between sets

 

 

 

 

WEEK 2

SET 1

5 x 5min efforts

85-90% MHR

1min between sets

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK 3

SET 1

4 x 7min efforts

85-90% MHR

1min between sets

 

 

 

WEEK 4

Set 1

3 x (10 x 100m on 60sec)

Finish in 15-18sec

3min between sets

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK 5

Set 1

4 x (10 x 50m on 30sec)

Finish in 7-8sec

3min between sets

 

 

 

 

WEEK 6

Set 1

3 x (10 x 50m on 30sec)

Finish in 7-8sec

3min between sets

 

 

 

 

 

SPECIFIC TRAINING NOTES:

  • "on 60sec" means you start a new rep every 60 sec.  The time remaining between completing the rep and the start of the next 60sec period is your recovery.
  • Timed Efforts require a balanced pace across the entire set.  Use a standardized area for these sets and mark your distance for each one.  Try to equal or beat each rep.
  • MHR = Maximum Heart Rate.
  • Ideally a heart rate monitor should be used to assess heart rate.
  • If MHR is not known use MHR = 220 – age as an estimate
  • See TRAIN TOUGH® for more detailed information on determining MHR

You will note in the above program calf work has been included throughout. In team field sports the calves face close to the greatest muscular workload of the body. It is critical to the longevity of the field sport athlete that calf strength and endurance be optimised. This program presents a basic introduction level calf program. In order to achieve an advanced level of calf strength a more intense dynamic loading program needs to follow.

The program detailed above is generic in nature and may not suit everybody. Ensure you seek the guidance of a qualified coach if you are uncertain about any elements particularly with regard to strength training skill.

The loading parameters used in this program are limited given the scope of this article. Athletes seeking more advanced programming and / or exercise descriptions should read my book TRAIN TOUGH®

Remember, the keys to success are intensity, specificity, variety and consistency. Follow these and you can be confident that you will always be moving forward.

Sign up to OLDBULLFITNESS.COM for FREE (see bottom of page) - receive a complementary e-book on TRAINING DENSITY and keep up to date on more training tools for amateur and developing athletes.

Good luck with your preseason.

JW

PS - The formatting on this program has lost a little in the translation to the website.  I will post a PDF of the original ASAP.

I grew up in the era that produced the STAR WARS movies.  As a kid STAR WARS was everything.  By the time the third movie of the series came around (RETURN OF THE JEDI) we finally got a detailed understanding of the entity known as the FORCE from Jedi Master Yoda.  As an eager young fan I ate up the idea that the FORCE interacted with everything and was all around us, and that it could be used for good or evil.

Fast forward a decade and I was up to my eyeballs studying Sport Science at university and pursuing a fledgling rugby career that had me introduced to some great speed & strength coaches.  At the time I didn't notice it, but there was a distinct dichotomy at play…one stream of education was teaching me a physiological basis for performance, while a second was teaching me a mechanical or FORCE orientated basis for performance.

Jump forward another 20 or so years and here I am having coached professional Rugby and AFL at the highest levels with what I feel is a clear "training model" for how I see athletic development for these and similar sports (Soccer, Rugby league, field hockey etc).  The overview of my training model is simple…every training modality exists on a continuum of FORCE production.  Just as Jedi Master Yoda said all those years ago, "the FORCE interacts with everything and is all around us".

For me, FORCE is integrally related to the three key elements of field sports (previously described here).

COMBAT - requires high absolute FORCE and high Rate of FORCE Development to overcome opponents and "blast" through traffic and compete for possession.

CRITICAL RUNNING - requires high absolute FORCE and high Rate of FORCE Development to be agile; accelerating and decelerating quickly, then at greater ranges requires high anti-rotation and stabilising FORCES to support dynamic Impulse (high speed FORCE development) during maximum velocity running.

TRANSITION RUNNING - requires high Strength Endurance (repeated moderate level FORCE development) to support efficient running between COMBAT and CRITICAL RUNNING elements of play.

The idea of a FORCE continuum (otherwise noted as a Strength-Speed continuum) is not a new concept and certainly not one I am trying to reconfigure as my own.  My observation is that too often the traditional Strength-Speed continuum is taught in a manner that leaves the student thinking that the continuum refers only to exercises conducted in the gym and in specialist running sessions.  This is often the result of education programs based primarily on energy system function (physiological basis for performance). 


My contention is that EVERYTHING exists on the FORCE continuum.  By everything I mean team training sessions, skill sessions, VO2 max running sessions…everything!  For me the FORCE continuum not only includes the energetics and kinetics of performance (force, power, RFD) but also the kinematic (skill) elements of performance.

For example: 

  • MAS running (download background Dupont et. al. article here) is an intermittent running protocol designed to increase exposure to VO2Max as opposed to running continuously for the same period.  While this is true and extremely effective, MAS also provides repeated acceleration and deceleration which conditions athletes to repeated FORCE production, conditioning musculature of the lower body to the rigors of multi-directional field sports and re-enforcing running mechanics at medium speeds (Transition Running).  Most coaches would dismiss this as a FORCE production modality, but to my way of thinking this is simply another derivative on the FORCE continuum.
  • Running drills are a form of FORCE training and therefore demand inclusion in the programming model as they require a FORCE output and thereby contribute to fatigue. Track coaches would consider this the case but few field S&C coaches would.
By working from this centralized point I feel it is easier to think of programming as a whole.  Too often (and I have seen this repeatedly over the years) young coaches throw new research and methodologies around ad-hoc, but fail to connect the dots between all the activities.  When programming for a team sport it is critical that the coach consider the entire demands of the program not simply the "pieces" that he/she directly coaches e.g. strength sessions.

On this basis the team S&C professional needs to take with a grain of salt many of the "funky" training ideas that get proliferated on the internet.  Why?  Put simply, there are many coaches who are undoubtedly very good at their craft, writing from their perspective as strength coaches or short term consultants.  Clearly many of these coaches get good results, but the team S&C coach needs to ensure they consider their program in it's entirety and not simply on a piecemeal basis.

Nothing in Strength and Conditioning is ever 100% right or wrong and I don't expect that my thinking will necessarily resonate with everybody.  However, here's the "rub".  A team field sport S&C coach is responsible for a myriad of training variables well beyond the scope of coaches in consultancies or employed as specialists.  As such, the team S&C coach must be in a position to clearly consider each and every activity and its impact on each and every athlete.  Having a concise training model always in the front of your mind allows for rapid cross checking of training modalities and athletes.

I will continue to expand on the idea of Training Models in the future.  As always I hope this article offers some stimulation for reflection on your role within S&C.

Regards

JW
I get asked on a regular basis by guys my age (40plus); "How should I be training at my age".  

My first response is generally F&^K the  "my age" bit.  That being said there are some considerations gentlemen of our level of "experience" should consider (more on that later).

My second response is you should be training like an athlete!  This response general results in me being given strange looks.  But the facts of the matter are you should, and to be even more accurate you should be training something like a football athlete.  By football I mean something along the lines of AFL, soccer, or either rugby code.  Why do I suggest modelling your Weekend Warrior program on a footballer?  Great question.

When you strip away the skill factor, all "football" athletes are essentially repeat speed & combat athletes.  Obviously there are variations between the codes, but in essence all football games come down the three things;
Combat  - requires strength and power to compete for possession.
Critical Running - requires speed and agility to compete for or with possession.
Transition Running - requires high running efficiency to allow the athlete to move between Combat and Critical Running elements.
Check out my article on article Consistency and the Coach's Eye for more on these descriptions.

So how do these elements apply to the "man on the street".

Combat - simple…requires strength and power.  Completing regular strength training at a minimum has been conclusively shown to alter the biochemical balance of the the body towards greater muscle mass and lower fat levels.  As we age testosterone production (the driver of the aforementioned benefits of strength training) tends to decrease.  So, for "older" guys strength training is a critical tool to help maintain testosterone levels, which is ultimately the hormone that drives muscle mass and fat metabolism.

Critical Running - A.K.A. sprinting.  Not too far removed from the points noted about Combat, football athletes use sprinting in and around the "contested" elements of the game to impose themselves on proceedings.  Sprinting stimulates testosterone production via fast twitch muscle fibre recruitment, while the increased acidic environment generally associated with repeat sprints (stimulates fat metabolism).  Have you ever seen a fat sprinter?  Nope…that's because they train at high speeds generating the adaptations mentioned above.  Football athletes are simply a derivative of sprinters.  Clearly they don't do one off efforts, but I can tell you they most certainly do repeat sprint extremely hard putting their bodies into a highly acid environment (this probably sounds more familiar if I use the term "lactic acid").

Transition Running - all football athletes have to get from Point A to Point B, and running at jog to stride pace is how they do it.  In this day and age there are those in the fitness community that have a philosophy of not employing any aerobic or sustained activity because it is contrary to their mantra of addressing just muscle mass and strength.  My personal philosophy is somewhat different.  I believe we need to be capable of sustained. locomotor movement simply because that is where life is lived.  Not being able to walk and run for sustained periods makes it hard to keep up with kids, chase the family pet…all things that are of critical importance to guys in their 40's (remember I'm a guy in my 40's so thats what I write about but any girls in the same age bracket can easily utilise these concepts).  I'm not suggesting you need to run marathons, although there is nothing wrong with that if that's you thing, I'm suggesting you just need to be able to move in order to engage the world, not just exist in a gym.

So lets get down to it.  Here are 7 things an average guy can learn from professional football codes.

1. Mobility - low level activity that increases range of motion around joints.  We spend a lot of time sitting on our butts, so the muscles around the hip get particularly tight.  These activities are designed maintain the range of motion we can move through.  When we lose this we lose the ability too move freely.

2. Stability - inactivity and previous low level injuries can reduce the effectiveness of the musculature that surrounds the hip, lower back and other joints of the body.  Using a combination of simple drills, these muscles can be stimulated to increase their activity and provide the natural support mechanisms that they were designed for.

3. Warm up - personally this is my Kryptonite!  Don't be in a rush!  Ensure your workouts are preceded by a warmup.  A good warm up will help reduce the risk of injury.  Elements of Mobility and Stability can be woven together to provide an effective warm up and increase efficiency of your session.

4. Train heavy - Put simply this just means resistance training.  Depending on where you are at this may be pushups or this may be deadlifts.  Please don't go rushing off to start lifting weights if you've never done it before.  That being said maintaining muscle mass is critical to performance at all ages and is no more so than in the 40plus age bracket.  The trick is simply to ensure you do it safely.

5. Train fast - In a nutshell sprint.  One of my favorite "executive" sessions is 10x80m soft sand sprints.  I generally run the first two at around 75% effort, then shift up to approx. 90% for six efforts, then gear down for the last two back to 75%.  Same goes as for Train Heavy…if you haven't done anything like this since high school don't rush out and start now.  Stand by for more details on how to get going.

6. Train to go the whole game - no sense being muscle bound but not be able to run out of sight on a dark night.  By the same token running a marathon is not for everybody.  You need to find the right volume of continuous activity that works for you.  For some guys depending on the state of knee, ankle and hip joints this may include cross training equipment and ergometers (versa climbers, bikes, rowing ergs etc).

7. Recovery - Number 1…Sleep!  Number 2…Nutrition!  Address your sleep and nutrition like you are preparing for a Grand Final everyday and you'll do fine.

Keep these concepts in mind and I will work on providing greater detail on each area in future blogs.

Any questions drop me an email.
Check out my book TRAIN TOUGH for graded programs and exercise selections ideas.
Keep moving!
JW