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Spring practice conditioning

This is an excerpt from Complete Conditioning for Football by Aaron Wellman.

Moving into spring practice, the players will start practicing skills and football-specific running multiple times per week, so the field training will all be performed during these sessions with the football coaches. The emphasis for the strength and conditioning coaches is to continue to develop players in the weight room during this period. The weight room training can shift to a 3-day full-body template, where upper-body and lower-body exercises are performed in each session. We present a sample 3-day template for 4 weeks of spring training in table 11.3.

Given that the spring period is still much more of a developmental period than a competitive one, we like to continue emphasizing gains in strength and power. So, days 1 and 2 will both feature power training, with day 2 emphasizing explosive strength for the lower body. The training on day 1 will feature a primary lower-body compound lift in addition to a primary power exercise. These may be combined into a superset if the coach desires, where the players finish a set of their primary exercises and then go perform a set of the power exercise. On day 2, the primary lower-body exercise becomes more of a power stimulus as the players are encouraged to push into the ground explosively, resulting in faster movement of the barbell through the range of motion. In our sample template, this is accomplished with a barbell low-box step-up for speed. 

The lower-body training on day 3 is more of a true strength day, and it will usually precede the players’ most explosive day of practice in the week. So, the strength stimulus can activate the body for the following day of practice as long as fatigue is not excessive. This is why we aim for sets of 3 repetitions on the strength movements for the lower body during this time, rather than 5 or more repetitions, which could cause excessive fatigue.

The upper-body training in the weight room is geared toward building more strength and maintaining hypertrophy, especially in the areas surrounding the players’ backs and necks. Practice will expose the players to a higher volume of press-oriented work with actions like punching, striking, pushing, and throwing, so we keep the training in the weight room with a ratio of 2:1 in terms of the pulling-to-pressing work. We want to continue building strength in the pressing movement and allow the press-oriented work in practice to make up for the high-volume pressing that has been removed. We also ensure that we continue building the muscles around the upper back and neck to provide a layer of protection in that area because they are introduced to contact and collision during practice.

After the end of spring practice, the players may have a few more weeks of mandatory training as they head into the last part of the academic year. For these weeks, we will keep a similar approach as the template in table 11.3 to allow their bodies to recover from spring practice. So, we can aim to maintain and hopefully further develop strength as well as hypertrophy before the players leave for a few weeks once their final exams are completed.

Table 11.3 Spring Practice Complete Conditioning Program, Weeks 1-4

More Excerpts From Complete Conditioning for Football



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