PART 3 - The Strength Sessions
The strength Sessions themselves should be as simple and as straightforward as possible. In an ideal world there is an S&C Coach monitoring everything.
For instance if I had full control over the S&C for a team I would interweave Power and Plyometric training between the gym and the field. These are not the same things but are critical in developing true athleticism.
The Method - Plyo and Power
What I tend to do is have basic Strength Training in the Gym when initial concurrent training is taking place. During this time on the field I will coach extensive plyometrics (high reps of simple hops, skips & jumps essentially). We will be developing a good base here for further more dynamic exercises and true high end plyometrics like depth jumps.
When using Plyos we are trying to develop ligament and tendon durability, ankle stiffness, the Short-Stretch Cycle and generally developing our ability to spend less time on the ground while still expanding considerable force. Plyometrics are very involved in the Transfer from Gym/Conditioning to the field.
There is or was a school of thought that you have to be so strong before doing power or plyometric training. But the levels were ridiculous and I am not sure where it originated from but I suspect the US. However, you do have to be careful with high drops or landings. In particular I would be wary of females in this regard. Weak glutes and an inability to control the knee through the hips can be disastrous.
How to Assess plyo strength
An asymmetric single leg drop jump test is one way to do it. The @MyJumpApp can assess left to right ground force pretty accurately. A score over 10% difference would suggest to be careful with too much high end training of any sort, including excessive running. Often this asymmetry can be adjusted quite quickly with some simple strength, stability & mobility work.
However, it is very important that people understand that these asymmetries can be damaging long term if not addressed. If you are spending significantly more time on one foot than the other when running, it can adjust your gait and stride length in particular. This is a recipe for injury down the road.
Over the past few years since i started using these assessments I learnt 2 things (generally but not exclusively):
However, that all said low level hops, skips & jumps are not only ok, they are of huge benefit and will also enhance your performance in the gym. I also believe it helps to address some of the imbalances if well programmed.
So for the concurrent training for first 4 weeks of the season I suggest that Strength Training is done in the gym and extensive plyometrics are done on the field. Then for the following 4 weeks I recommend adding some power training to the gym and reduce the Plyometric volume but maybe make it more complex. I will write an article on “Transfer from the gym to the pitch” in the near future which will go into more detail on this.
The best way to approach a gym session is with serious intent. Some Stability (commonly known as core work) to start for 5 mins and then get into it. Again, in an ideal world each player is individualised. For an example using my usual approach of having movements specific to a day we will give 2 possible examples of a typical gym session for 2 different players. We will use a Squat & Pull day.
***Please note these are based on athletes with a decent amount of S&C experience. Even at this stage, 16-20 weeks into from where we started its quite possible young inexperienced players would be still doing a 1 x20 program or similar.***
Strong Fast Player who Fatigues easily and works in an office (we would work on performances weaknesses like aerobic capacity in this case on the field).
Stability - 5 minute circuit continuous
Isometric Bird Dog x30 secs + High-Low Plank x10 + Single Leg Bridge x15 e/s
Hip & Thoracic Mobility Circuit - 5 Mins
90/90 Hip Flow x20 + Quadruped Thoracic Twists x12
Movement Specific Nervous System Warm Up - 8 Mins
Isometric Back Squat x60 Secs + Back Squat Jump x6 + Dynamic Barbell Row (Pull, release, Catch & Hold) x5secs x8 - 60 secs rest after each super set
Squat & Pull Strength - 12 Mins
Back Squat x5 (80-85% 1RM) + Barbell Row x8 - 90 secs Rest after Superset
It takes about 30 minutes to complete this session.
Weaker player looking for general strength and endurance development.
Stability - 8 minute circuit continuous
Bird Dog x20 e/s + High-Low Plank x10 + Bridge x30
Movement Specific Warm Up - 8 mins continuous
Med Ball Counterbalance Squat x20 + Eccentric Emphasised (just means slow return)Band face Pull x20
Movement Specific Nervous System Warm Up - 10 Mins
Isometric Goblet Squat x 45 secs + Countermovement Squat Jumps w/soft Landing x8 + Dynamic Barbell Row (Pull, release, Catch & Hold) x5secs x8 - 60 secs rest after each super set
Squat & Pull Strength - 14 mins
Bulgarian Split Squat x8 (add weight if needed) + Chin Ups xMAX (Add weight if you can do more than 8) - This should be reasonably heavy and close to fatigue at rep7-8. Take 90 secs after every superset.
This session is complete in 40 minutes.
These are just samples and it's quite possible someone would not need mobility and extra stability. It really depends.
I give times as I feel it pushes people to work with intent and efficiency and reduces the chances of overtraining somewhat. If you have questions on any of the above, feel free to message me.